TISZAUJVAROS, Hungary — Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) earned a gold medal Sunday at the Tiszaújváros ITU Triathlon World Cup in Hungary, outsprinting his competition in epic fashion to grab his first career victory on the ITU World Cup circuit.
The race in Tiszaújváros — nicknamed ‘Tiszy’ — featured a semifinal format, with qualifying heats on Saturday and finals on Sunday. Both the semifinal and final courses consisted of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run course. The top 30 men and top 30 women after the semifinal heats advanced to the Sunday final.
Hemming finished fourth in his heat in Saturday’s semifinal, easily advancing to the final with the 10th-fastest overall qualifying time. In Sunday’s final, he was 10th out of the water, 28 seconds back from swim leader Raphael Aurelien of France. He joined a large pack on the bike, and while a few athletes tried for breakaways, the peloton reeled them back in each time. With no one gaining a clear advantage, it was anyone’s game heading into the 5k run.
Hemming ran to the front of the group almost immediately, putting himself in the mix for the podiums along with South Africa’s Wian Sullwald, Great Britain’s Barclay Izzard, Australia’s Ryan Fisher, and hometown favorite Csongor Lehmann of Hungary.
The run would come down to a sprint down the chute, and Hemming’s finishing kick got him to the tape first. His time of 53 minutes, 43 seconds was just one second ahead of runner-up Fisher and third-place finisher Sullwald, who recorded identical times of 53:44. Lehmann ultimately took fourth in 53:49.
The 24-year-old American has had several breakout performances over the last 10 months. He was the top U.S. man at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast and went on to earn his first two ITU World Cup medals — a silver and a bronze — at the end of last season. Though he helped the U.S. squad to a silver medal at the 2019 ITU World Mixed Relay Series opener in Abu Dhabi, Sunday’s race marked his first individual podium of 2019.
Hemming currently trains with Sullwald on the Origin Performance elite squad, and spent time training with Fisher earlier this year. He said the gold-medal performance was even more rewarding with training partners by his side.
“I had a chip on my shoulder from the start of the season, so I just gave it all I had,” Hemming said. “It’s really fun to be doing a sprint finish, but it’s even better with your buddies.”
Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.) was the sole U.S. woman racing in Tiszy. She took third in her heat in Saturday’s semifinal, entering the final with the sixth-place overall qualifying time. On Sunday, she finished 17th with a time of 1:01:01. Taking the victory was Australia’s Emma Jeffcoat in 59:28. Like the men’s race, the silver and bronze medalists were just one second behind the champion, as Austria’s Sara Vilic and Australia’s Kelly-Ann Perkins took silver and bronze respectively with identical times of 59:29.
The ITU Triathlon World Cup circuit travels next to Banyoles, Spain, on Sept. 8.
Tiszaujvaros ITU Triathlon World Cup — Final
750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run
Elite Men — Complete Results
1. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 53:43
2. Ryan Fisher (AUS), 53:44
3. Wian Sullwald (RSA), 53:44
1. Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.), 53:43
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Emma Jeffcoat (AUS), 59:28
2. Sara Vilic (AUT), 59:29
3. Kelly-Ann Perkins (AUS), 59:29
17. Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), 1:01:01
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).